West Briton, 10 Jan, 1840
SCOTCH TEA DEALERS
Wm. MCGUFFIN, 21, was charged with embezzling money from his master, John
MILROY, a tea-dealer of Callington. The parties were both Scotchmen; and
the trial excited considerable interest, on account of the facts
to the mode in which they carry on their trade in this country.
Mr. Coode stated the case, and called the prosecutor, who said that the
prisoner had been in his employ, to carry round tea for sale, and to
receive the money. Witness paid him yearly wages, or rather he was to
have so much at the end of his time. It was prisoner's duty to enter his
receipts of money in a book. He had particular rounds every day, and was
out two nights in a fortnight. On Monday, the 16th of December, he left
Callington in the morning, to go to Launceston, and returned on
Wednesday night. On Thursday, he left again for Calstock, and ought to
have returned the same evening, about eight o'clock. He did not return
that night. He had taken all the money with him that he had received for
the week. He ought to have left it in the drawer, as usual, taking but a
pound's worth of silver to give change. He did not return until he was
fetched by a constable on the Saturday. His book and tea-bag were
brought to witness on Friday. The book was here produced; and witness
referred to an account entered in prisoner's handwriting, with Miss ROWE
of Launceston. Prisoner, on his return, said he handed to the constable
£10. 11s. 4 1/2d. of witness's money; and that he had lent £1 to Mrs.
TAYLOR of Calstock, and 11s. to Mrs. BAKER, of that place. The warrant
expressed £10, and prisoner said he had given up his watch, to make up
Cross-examined by Mr. John: Had lived at Callington about ten years, and
had employed several young men. They had all been Scotchmen. By his
arrangement he could not employ others.
Mr. John - So this tea-dealing is a little Scotch monopoly? You have an
association bound by rules.
Witness - We have no Act of Parliament. (laughter) we have rules.
Mr. J.- I believe you have a rule to deal with no wholesale dealer if he
dares to supply any man traveling in your rounds?
W. - No, Sir.
Mr. J. - What is the resolution you come to with wholesale dealers?
W. - I don't exactly understand you. (laughter)
Mr. J. - I don't think you do. I want to know about this system of tea
dealing. Suppose a Scotchman came down to Callington, and went over your
country with tea, and he was to buy tea of a wholesale tea dealer, is it
not a rule with you not to deal with the man?
W - No, supposing he is an honourable man. (laughter)
Mr. J - Have you a rule among you that you will not deal with any
wholesale house that supplies tea to any person interfering with any of
W - It is one of our rules. Oh, yes.
Mr. J. - So this trade then is entirely confined to yourselves; and
having districts of country marked out for you, you are not to employ
but confine yourselves to Scotchmen?
W - There are others who travel.
Mr. J - Yes, Sir; but do they form part of your company?
W - Oh, no.
Mr, J - Of course, you would not introduce any but scotchmen among this
Scotch fraternity. (laughter)
Witness proceeded. He had a character for this young man before he
employed him. Had made an arrangement that he should go into business,
but had not made up his mind as to when. There was no contract about
this taking place at Christmas, but there was a talk about it.
Mr. J - Did you, or did you not, tell him that he was to take your
W - No, Sir; I did not name Christmas. I said it might be after
Christmas. I did not say when.
Mr. J - Probably it might have been the 26th of December.
W - Ah. Probably it might be. (laughter)
Mr. J - How much did you give him a year?
W - I was to give him £25 per year, or set him in business at the end of
Mr. J - I believe that is one of the rules of your society?
W - I believe it is.
Mr. J - Did he receive his £25 a year?
W - Yes, in goods or clothes. The agreement expressed that.
Mr. J - When was the service out? When did he first come to you from
Witness - In July, 1836, and was to serve 3½ years. His time would have
been out at Christmas, but in June last he went to Okehampton, and that
made it null and void. Witness admitted he had enabled prosecutor to go
Okehampton, supplying him with tea to sell on his own account. Prisoner
left in witness's hands £10, as a sort of security. Witness had never
stated an account to prisoner, and could not exactly say what the
balance was, but he believed the prisoner was in his debt now. The
account was produced, in witness's hand, written by him in the past
week, which was in his favour by £1.12s.10d.
Mr. J. asked if the £10 was credited to the prisoner.
Witness - Oh, I forgot that. (laughter) I am ready to pay him. That is
of no consequence. That was a little c.. of a mistake, I think.
(laughter) When he was at Okehampton, I used to let him have his tea at
prime cost. No profit.
Mr. J - No, of course, with you Scotchmen. (laughter) Was he not to pay
£1,000 if bought of any other person?
W - Not at all. He was to buy where he liked.
Mr. J. - Suppose he came within 20 miles of you to sell. Was there not a
penalty of £1,000 according to your rules?
W - There was something like that. (laughter)
Witness did not, on the 21st, the day on which the prisoner was bound
know of the shilling prisoner had received from Mrs. Rose. Prisoner told
him of lending spices to Mr. Baker and Mrs. ..[. part missing..]
Witness. - Don't press me too much You should'nt press me. (laughter) I
did not recollect myself for the moment.
Mr. Coode, the prosecutor's advocate, here said to the Chairman, "After
this, Sir, I will not take up your time longer on this case."
The Bench had previously consulted more than once, as to stopping the
case; but were induced to go on, by observations made by Mr. Coode. The
jury said they were quite satisfied, and returned a verdict of Not
Guilty. The Bench ordered that the prosecutor's expenses should not be